On our drive up we observed the results of the New River flooding. Certainly devastating with washes and the creek bed scoured and widened. It was dramatic! Oh, and we hit traffic delays coming and going on I-17.
Another double AZT weekend starting out with Segment 32 from Schultz to the I-40 and then Segment 31 from Sandy to I-40. The nite before we (Ambika and me) drove around FR 301 the nite before trying to find a camp spot and discovering there is NO CAMPING here . In the dark we met up with Tracy and Shawn at Country Club Dr and headed to dispersed camping off of Old Walnut Canyon Rd. Shawn found us a nice spot on the second try. Kathy and Karl joined us a little while later. They all slept in their vehicles, I practiced my tent camping ;)
We took Karl and Kathy's vehicle to Schultz TH and they took Ambika's to I-40 TH. We parked next to a vehicle with Montana plates. They were from Helena and were heading up to Fremont. One of the fellows knew of Bob as I had mentioned HIKEARIZONA.COM and he said, tell BobP "Geronimo".
It was a nice morning as we headed off (9:00) past Schultz Tank and into the forest. There would be lots of wildflowers on this trek and they started right away. We hit Mullein Alley and were amazed at their height. The Little Elden Trail was recently opened and it looked like they did a great job with renovating this trail. We continued winding our way around the north side of Little Elden where you could see a lot of the burn area. To its north on another mountainside you could see the additional burn area quite clearly. But as we got to the northeast side, you could see the area that wasn't burned.
Along the eastside we came across this most incredible area that was covered in wildflowers, in particular, brilliant orange paintbrush. It was like a mini-Glacier Park floral display. It was really quite something
. Enroute to the south side of Little Elden, we climbed a bit of a hill, saw some deer in the distance, noticed the large cliff rose bushes and trees against the back drop of Little Elden's cliff face before arriving at our break (11:11) in what I call the Elden Valley. The Valley was lush as well with the beautiful green grasses and smatterings of wildflowers.
We reached the intersection with the Heart (a fun but take your breath away trail up to the Elden ridgeline - Ambika and I did that last year) and then with Sandy Seep 11:35 (a trail we also did last year). Once again this Sandy Seep trail delivered in the wildflower department though different this time. Along the way we also saw a bunch of acorn woodpeckers chasing a squirrel
from apparently THEIR tree. They all made quite a ruckus as the squirrel ran over to the tree next door. It was very entertaining once we figured out what was going on.
We didn't know when we would encounter K&K coming up from the south. It ended up being around noon so we found a large shade tree to sit under. We talked about what they had hiked and told them the best part of their hike was yet to come. We only lunched for about 20 minutes as we still had 8 miles to go I think, they only had 6. It was fun though.
We enjoyed our views of Mount Elden and some of the sunflowers along the way as we headed toward the 89 tunnel. I kept expecting the trail to take us down to the light to cross but we paralleled the highway until we hung a left and headed into the tunnel (12:45). Somewhere later from here we apparently entered Picture Canyon and were on some sort of City Loop for this portion of the hike. We were already looking forward to our next little break at Rio de Flag (1:30); altho we ended up breaking longer just because the area was so cool with the creek and all. Tracy experimented with her new waterproof camera (they are all going on a GC rafting trip toward the end of the month; and leaving me behind
We continued thru Picture Canyon and past the quarry area which was kind of interesting. There was some equipment there including what looked to be conveyor belt thingies. Along the way toward the NE was an incredible field of yellow flowers that really stood out. We reached a road around 2 and walked it just a bit before going thru a most interesting gate into a very colorful area with flowers and rocks and deceased trees.
As you round a couple corners there is this incredible field of flowers spread out before you. It was such a surprise. I do think it's planted. Here Ambika and I looked back to capture the field with the mountains. Ambika got a really good picture here. We took our time walking thru this. I hope my movies will do it justice. And then you come back into the forest area that sits above a meadow that had a gazillion sunflowers just on this side of the tracks.
Around 3 I requested a 5 minute break in the next shade. Well Tracy picked a great spot as we had a nice view of the tracks and got to see 2 or 3 trains pass. However, it must have been on a curve as wow was it screechy at times as the train rolled by. I don't know, there's just something
about watching trains... Our 5 minutes turned into 20.
It was time now to finish off this last bit. We were toodling along pretty good observing some of the trash along the way and of course the view to the distant very red mountain to the east. Shawn all of a sudden decided we were off trail and as we headed back the way we had come, he said it would be shorter to cross country and would we be ok with that? No one even hesitated. So we crossed over to the correct route based on Shawn's GPS track. I didn't load the track on ScoutII this time but next time I will as a back up.
We walked on the road next to the track for awhile until we got to Tip Tank (4:05) and saw the sign for the Trail, in retrospect the Trail we should have stayed on
. This trail had been re-routed from the old track Shawn had. Well now we know and now you know. If you're hiking it north, it wouldn't be a problem at all. Getting weary now, we know we should have about a mile left. We pressed on and eventually reached the tunnels of the I-40. We were lucky that a train was just rounding the corner and heading our way. I got some good pics and video. I wanted to cross under so I could see how loud it was as the train went over; but it wasn't very loud at all.
As we made our way to the next tunnel I could hear a big rumble which probably meant another train. I turned and by gosh, here comes a train from the west. So we got to watch two trains passing over the underpass. Finally we go under the frontage road to Ambika's vehicle (4:34). (refurbished ScoutII, or should it be Scout the Third now?, is only off by .15 miles or so now in the last three hikes).
After a beverage we headed to Country Club Dr to pick up some ice and then headed back to camp where Kathy made some delish Chicken Nachos, Ambika prepared a mighty fine Italian dinner and Tracy put together a great salad with some really garlicy (?) toasted bread.
The night before you could hear the trains but tonite, no trains; just the wind that woke me around 2AM. In the later AM it was the crying baby and the cattle and the vehicle noise of someone driving around at 5:30AM. SHEESH! But at least it was warmer.
PS Oh, I have lots of video of course and they're actually ready to go. Just need to finish uploading to youtube. My computer was not cooperating last nite so there is a delay.
September 11, 2014 here are the videos:
[ youtube video ]
to below Little Elden
[ youtube video ]
to just past 89 underpass
[ youtube video ]
into the field of flowers
[ youtube video ]
finishing off the trail including watching the trains